Free Range Vs. Commercial Eggs

In my post on eggs being a powerhouse of nutrition, I mentioned that free range eggs (from a local farmer you trust) were by far the best eggs I have ever had. I wanted to center on that a little more.

Free Range chickens that have been allowed to eat their natural diet of worm, grubs, and other such chicken delights have a dramatically different egg. Look at the picture above. Even the color is dramatically different! The dark yolk is from a local farmer, who allows her chickens access to the her yard (and bugs). The lighter egg yolk is an “omega 3” egg from the store (the “free range” eggs I buy there, have about the same color). This color difference would have been even more dramatic if I had used a normal egg from the grocery store!

You really can taste and see the difference.

Mother Earth News did a study comparing small farmer’s eggs with commercial eggs. They found that it affected everything from cholesterol amount, ratio of omega 3 to 6 fats, and vitamin content.

But, even beyond our health, I feel that it makes so much more sense to have chickens eat what we can’t ( and what is natural to them!), instead of feeding them so much grain that could be used to feed other people. Especially in light of the recent grain shortage, this makes the most sense for all animals. We could save so much grain if we simply allowed animals to eat what they were meant to eat. We would also have much healthier meat, eggs, and milk, if we did.

One last advantage for me is that while my eggs purchased from my local farmer are more expensive than bottom of the line eggs in the store, they are actually cheaper than many of the free range eggs at my local health food store. Better quality for a cheaper cost? I’ll take it!

I put my vote in for free range!

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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  1. Cammie says

    Amen! We have had our own chickens for about a year and a half now. The few times we have had to resort to store bought eggs have shown dramaticly how much of a lesser product they are. Also, the whites are much runnier in storebought eggs, showing how old they are. Good post.

  2. Laura says

    I’m totally with you! I LOVE our free range eggs…nothing beats them! I love that they are full of such wonderful nutrition…and I love that I can support our farming friends. And I love how PRETTY they are!

  3. pennythoughts (Alison) says

    How weird! I was just (literally, 30 seconds ago) considering writing a post on my blog on this very topic. But then I saw your post. I’ll just have to refer my readers to your blog. Local, free range eggs really can’t be beat. The color, the flavor, the texture, the nutritional profile–everything’s better!

  4. Renee says

    I agree! Store bought eggs, even one called ‘free range’ or cageless, are flavorless compared to farmer’s eggs. I’m still trying to figure out how to put a few chickens in my city backyard. Any ideas, anyone?

  5. BarbaraLee says

    I heard they put some chemicals in the feed to make the yolks look yellower. I buy from a neighbor when I can and he is cheaper. That goes for butcher too. This yr I talked hubby into getting chicks for the freezer. Not a profitable thing but better quality.

  6. Kirstin says

    Hmmmm. I may have to think about doing that. I’ll have to research as I don’t know of any farmers in our area. If we weren’t gone so much it would be tempting to get our own chickens when our house is done.

  7. Anonymous says

    I agree! I just found a local family that sells eggs and they are delicious. I showed my husband the difference between the color of the yolks from the store and the local ones. He couldn’t believe the difference. I hope my supply never runs out! If it does, I guess I’ll just have to buy some chickens of my own!

  8. Debra says

    Go Free Range!! Our oldest son has 25 layers (not laying yet) for his egg business and we have 15 cornish cross chickens to be butchered this weekend. We have them in a movable, bottomless pen so they can eat new grass/bugs everyday.

    If you guys ever make it down our way, we’d love to share a chicken with you!

  9. Niki Lou says

    We have our own chickens that free range, but they do have a feeder with organic feed in ti in the hen house. My kids will NOT eat a fried egg from a store bought egg! LOL So I tried it, and, YUCK! LOL It tastes really bad 🙁 The free range eggs are so much better. They just plain taste good! So, now I must decide if I am gonna give my chickens the natural cycle that God made and have a mult over the winter, or am I gonna put a light in the coop that they sleep in so they will WANT to keep producing? Anyone? 🙂


    Niki Lou

    • Teri says

      the light is not what keeps them from molting and they can lay during a molt. we use a light but just to lengthen the yr a little bit. You can force them out of molt by restricting there water for up tp 2 days and they will not molt after that until the following yr. i recommend allowing them to molt at least the second yr.

      While I do not advocate either way with the molting perse we live in a climate that has less sun so we use a light part of the yr or a light on a timer to keep 10-12 hr days inside the coop area and for wramth. sometimes mother nature freezes your water and before you k now it you have 1 or 2 chickens that lay yr round 🙂 not sure if they are just that way or because of this but… this is what i have learned over all my research and yrs with yummy chickens and eggs

    • Janet says

      We allow our chickens to molt. A light doesn’t seem to make any difference. Turning the light on early in the morning will wake them up so they get the day started, causing them to lay earlier in the day. In the winter, that helps to prevent frozen eggs, because I am not one to traipse to the chicken house on a 0* night to retrieve eggs! We use a heat lamp to keep the water from freezing, but our chickens scorn heat sources. We have a roofed yard as well as open yards, and they spend the entire winter in there. I haven’t seen one of them go into the chicken house for two years.

      To hurry your molt along, you can give the ladies yogurt with fruit. Or if you have a source of organic cat food that is better yet. The high protein helps them grow feathers more quickly. Make sure they have calcium and grit to pick at if they want. I scatter the grit around the yard so they have to scratch for it, giving them exercise, which cuts down on the fighting too.

  10. KimiHarris says

    Niki Lou,
    It’s hard to go back to store bought eggs after eating good eggs, for sure! That’s an interesting question. It does seem good to go with their natural cycle, but it would be sad to not have eggs for part of the year!

  11. Cristiana says

    I have a question: I live in NYC and can only find pastured eggs at the Farmer’s market during the warmer times of year, and even then, they are not always available. Does anyone know where I can buy them year round or most of the year? Thanks!

  12. holly says

    well we just got our own chickens and I made a sponge cake it was really eggy so now im doing my school science fair project on free range eggs vs commercial eggs im going to need alot of research and this websites great! thanks!

  13. Anonymous says

    I agree. I won’t eat eggs for a long time until we started to raise our own chickens, ducks and turkeys. I still don’t eat a lot of eggs but they work good for cooking/baking. 🙂

  14. says

    Love free-range eggs! I am raising my own chickens after wanting to tackle that project since I was 14 or 15 (now almost 23). My family and I live in a semi-rural neighborhood that allows any type of animal except swine. A neighbor owns about 25 chickens, and we’ve been buying eggs from her, and they are great!
    I have Barred Rocks and Rhode Island Reds (15 in all), who are a little over 2 months old. After talking to another friend who does organic gardening and raises organic eggs (and also follows Sally Falon’s food method), she gave me her recipe for home made chicken feed (mostly made of soaked/sprouted wheat berries, black oil sunflower seeds, and corn, with other nutritional supplements like kelp powder and flax seeds).
    They are also very low maintenance and not as much work as one would think. For those of you who live in a suburban/city area, I’ve heard of people getting just 2 or 3 chickens and a small backyard coop…so easy and fun! 🙂

    • Rana says

      yes, me also. i would LOVE that recipe. hey put so much in the chicken feed we buy and a lot of it doesn’t seem that great. there was like animal buy products or something in it!!!

  15. Helen Short says

    my name is helen and i am doing a creative writing course and i have to write a peice on Non- Fiction and was wondering if you could please give me some infomation on cage / free rang chicken. or lead me in the right direction as to where to find it. i thank-you for your time, hope to hear from you soon
    Helen Short

  16. Matt says

    I recently purchased a carton of eggs from a local farmer who let his chickens feed naturally on the earth as described above and I must say that their was a SIGNIFICANT difference in taste. Its like buying farmed peppers as opposed to store bought. The taste it incredibly better especially if your creating omlettes etc. The eggs vary in sizes, but mostly large to medium, different shades and have a much stronger shell… what does that tell you. I now understand when Ive heard people say “Ill never go back to store bought eggs ever again”, and neither will I.

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